There are a lot of chefs and cookbook authors who have influenced my journey as a cook. Here are my top ten culinary heros:
Who doesn’t love Julia Child? Julia was my first culinary hero, back in the days of the TV show, “The French Chef.” While it’s tempting to choose my well-worn copy of the The French Chef Cookbook as my favorite, The Way to Cook is still my ultimate reference on French cooking.
Frances Moore Lappé’s seminal book, Diet for a Small Planet (20th Anniversary Edition) was a revelation to me when I first read it in 1974. Her passionate explanation of why the modern agri-business practice of feeding grain and soy to cows instead of allowing them to naturally graze has even more relevance today than it did 30 years ago. If you believe that Americans consume too much meat (at 270 pounds per year, we clock in at the second highest level in teh world), do yourself a favor and read her book.
Deborah Madison is a prolific and well-respected author who helped me in giving birth to Fool a Carnivore. The gift of her time and experience was a gracious act of generosity and kindness. Deborah has written many wonderful cookbooks from The Greens Cookbook to Vegetable Literacy, but my favorite is The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
As a transplanted Northerner, I wanted to learn how to please my Southern husband’s palate. Reading In Pursuit Of Flavor by Edna Lewis helped me learn from one of the best classic Southern chefs.
Jacques Pepin has written many fine books, but the easy dishes in Jacques Pepin’s Simple and Healthy Cooking make this cookbook my favorite.
One of my all-time favorite cookbooks is Passionate Vegetarian. I have read it like a book, from cover to cover, and love the fact that I can hear Crescent Dragonwagon’s voice in every recipe, giving her tips on “…cooking, eating, loving, and living fearlessly”.
My tattered copy of The New Moosewood Cookbook (Mollie Katzen’s Classic Cooking) proves how much I loved Mollie’s original recipes back in 1977. This is one of the best-selling vegetarian cookbooks of all time, and has been reissued with improved recipes that trim a lot of fat from the original versions of each dish.
Marcella Hazan is widely regarded as the doyenne of Italian cooking, and I have learned so much from each of her books. If I have to only choose two, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and Marcella Cucina would be my top picks.
If I could only choose one pasta book to use as a reference for the rest of my life, it would have to be The Classic Pasta Cookbook. Yes, Giuliano is the talented son of Marcella and Victor Hazan, noted expert on Italian wine. I had the privilege of meeting each of them at the 13th Food and Wine Classic in Aspen in 1995.